#SolarPowerGrowth; #technology; #ClimateGoals
New York/Canadian-Media: A few lonely academics have been warning for years that solar power faces a fundamental challenge that could halt the industry’s breakneck growth. Simply put: the more solar you add to the grid, the less valuable it becomes, https://www.technologyreview.com/ said on Jul 14.
Image: Importance of Solar Energy. Image credit: www.clean-energy-ideas.com
The problem is that solar panels generate lots of electricity in the middle of sunny days, frequently more than what’s required, driving down prices—sometimes even into negative territory.
Unlike a natural gas plant, solar plant operators can’t easily throttle electricity up and down as needed, or space generation out through the day, night and dark winter. It’s available when it’s available, which is when the sun is shining. And that’s when all the other solar plants are cranking out electricity at maximum levels as well.
A new report finds that California, which produces one of the largest shares of solar power in the world, is already acutely experiencing this phenomenon, known as solar value deflation.
The state’s average solar wholesale prices have fallen 37% relative to the average electricity prices for other sources since 2014, according to the Breakthrough Institute analysis, which will be published on July 14. In other words, utilities are increasingly paying solar plants less than other sources overall, due to their fluctuating generation patterns.
Wholesale prices are basically the amount that utilities pay power plants for the electricity they deliver to households and businesses. They shift throughout the day and year, edging back up for solar operators during the mornings, afternoons and other times when there isn’t excess supply. But as more solar plants come online, the periods of excess supply that drive down those costs will become more frequent and more pronounced.
Lower prices may sound great for consumers. But it presents troubling implications for the world’s hopes of rapidly expanding solar capacity and meeting climate goals.
It could become difficult to convince developers and investors to continue building ever more solar plants if they stand to make less money or even lose it. In fact, California construction has already been flat since 2018, the study notes. But the state will need the industry to significantly ramp up development if it hopes to pull off its ambitious clean energy targets.
Why cheaper solar photovoltaics are key to addressing climate change.
The rapidly dropping price of solar power has transformed how we think about clean energy. But it needs to still get a whole lot cheaper.
This could soon become a broader problem as well.
“California is a little sneak peek of what is in store for the rest of the world as we dramatically scale up solar,” says Zeke Hausfather, director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute, and author of the report.
That’s because while solar accounts for about 19% of the electricity California generates, other regions are rapidly installing photovoltaic panels as well. In Nevada and Hawaii, for instance, the share of solar generation stood at around 13% in 2019, the study found. The levels in Italy, Greece and Germany were at 8.6%, 7.9% and 7.8%, respectively.
So far, heavy solar subsidies and the rapidly declining cost of solar power has offset the falling value of solar in California. So long as it gets ever cheaper to build and operate solar power plants, value deflation is less of a problem.
But it’s likely to get harder and harder to pull off that trick, as the state’s share of solar generation continues to climb. If the cost declines for building and installing solar panels tapers off, California’s solar deflation could pull ahead in the race against falling costs as soon as 2022 and climb upward from there, the report finds. At that point, wholesale pricing would be below the subsidized costs of solar in California, undermining the pure economic rationale for building more plants, Hausfather notes.
The state’s SB 100 law, passed in 2018, requires all of California’s electricity to come from “renewable and zero-carbon resources” by 2045. By that point, some 60% of the state’s electricity could come from solar, based on a California Energy Commission model.
The Breakthrough study estimates that the value of solar–or the wholesale average price relative to other sources–will fall by 85% at that point, decimating the economics of solar farms, at least as California’s grid exists today.
How do we fix it?
There are a variety of ways to ease this effect, though no single one is likely a panacea.
The solar sector can continue trying to find ways to push down solar costs, but some researchers have argued it may require shifting to new materials and technologies to get to the dirt-cheap levels required to outpace value deflation.
Grid operators and solar plant developers can add more energy storage—and increasingly they are.
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory highlighted similarly declining solar values in California in a broader study published in Joule last month. But they also noted that numerous modeling studies showed that the addition of low cost storage options, including so called hybrid plants coupled with lithium-ion batteries, eases value deflation and enables larger shares of renewables to operate economically on the grid.
There are likely limits to this, however, as study after study finds that storage and system costs rise sharply once renewables provide the vast majority of electricity on the grid.
States or nations could also boost subsidies for solar power; add more long-distance transmission lines to allow regions to swap clean electricity as needed; or incentivize customers to move energy use to times of day that better match with periods of high generation.
The good news is that each of these will help to ease the transition to clean electricity sources in other ways as well, but they’ll also all take considerable time and money to get underway.
#Lytton; #BC; #LyttonWildFire; #ClimateChange; #NationalIssuesReport
Lytton (B.C.)/Canadian-Media: The wildfire that destroyed Lytton, B.C. is exemplary of what rural communities across the country can expect as the planet continues to get hotter, according last week's news release Canada in a Changing Climate: National Issues (NI) Report.
Lytton fire. Image credit: Screenshot from the web
Launched by Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), the reports synthesizes the latest climate science, with one of the sections exploring particular impact climate change will have on rural and remote communities.
"I'm extremely worried about the impacts that climate change is having and will have," said Kelly Vodden, one of the authors of the new National Issues Report and a professor at Memorial University, CBC news reported.
The report paints a picture of an Indigenous and small-town Canada that is both resilient and hollowed-out, resource jobs disappear, rise in the cost of living and governments downsize and centralize critical services in big cities.
#ESA; #heatWaveInCanadaAndUS; #CopernicusSentinel3Mission; #HeatDome
Ottawa/Canadian-Media: Although heatwaves are quite common during the summer months, the punishing and unusual heatwave hitting parts of western Canada and the US with shattering with temperature records has been particularly devastating, and hundreds of people falling victim to the extreme heat and succumbing to death, says European Space Agency (ESA).
With its mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure continuous delivering of benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world, (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space.
Temperature record in Canada was shattered for a third consecutive day recording a whopping 49.6°C on 29 June in Lytton, a village northeast of Vancouver, in British Columbia.:
Portland, Oregon, also broke its all-time temperature record for three days in a row.
The following map shows the extent of the heatwave also revealing the land surface temperature of parts of Canada and the US on 29 June. The data show that surface temperatures in Vancouver reached 43°C, and Calgary and Portland recorded 43°C. The hottest temperatures recorded are in the state of Washington (visible in deep red) with maximum land surface temperatures of around 69°C.
Canada-US Heatwave Map. Image credit: ESA website
The map has been generated using data from the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission, a multi-instrument mission to measure sea-surface topography, sea- and land-surface temperature, ocean color and land color with high-end accuracy and reliability. The mission supports ocean forecasting systems, as well as environmental and climate monitoring.
Launched on Feb 16 2016 Sentinel-3A joined its twin in orbit Sentinel-3B on 25 April 2018.
Sentinel family. Image credit: ESA website.
While air temperatures are typically used by weather forecasts, the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer onboard Sentinel-3 measures the energy radiating from Earth’s surface. Therefore, actual temperature of the land’s surface is shown by the map which can be significantly hotter or colder than air temperatures.
The light blue in the image of the map represents either snow and ice or cloud coverage. Snow and ice can be seen, for example, in the mountain ranges of Canada and Mount Rainier in the US, while some clouds can be seen on the Pacific Coast and in the bottom right of the map.
The persistent heat over parts of western Canada and parts of the US has been caused by a heat dome formed when high-pressure circulation in the atmosphere acts like a dome or cap, trapping heat at the surface and favoring the formation of a heat wave. stretching from California to the Arctic. Temperatures have been easing in coastal areas, but there has been little respite for the inland regions.
Heat dome. Image credit: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/heat-dome.html
#BC; #ExtremeHeatWave; #ClimateChange; #GlobalWarming; #WorldMeteorologicalOrg
Vancouver/Canadian-Media: Western Canada's unprecedented heat wave would become more common with climate change, scientists predict.
World Meteorological Organization. Image credit: Twitter handle
Known for its mild, sunny forecasts, people of British Columbia (B.C.) have endured extreme punishing weather events during three of the past five summers.
Canada's all-time weather record over three consecutive days was shattered when the village of Lytton in B.C.'s Interior surpassed 49 C on Tuesday.
Temperatures recorded in the B.C.s Fraser Valley were in the mid 40s.
With moving of Pacific Northwest's this week's historic heat wave with punishing temperatures eastward to Alberta, the realities of climate change and global warming become more evident, say some scientists.
"As a climate scientist, we expect to see more extreme heat waves going forward into the future because we're adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. But this is even beyond my expectations. To have a heat wave last this long and be this hot in Canada is completely unprecedented in history," said Simon Donner, a professor of climatology at the University of British Columbia, CBC News reported.
According to the World Meteorological Organization since industrialization, there has been an increase of the global temperature by 1.2 C.
Canada is warming twice as fast, a 2019 report commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada found, with the highest rates occurring in the North, the Prairies and northern British Columbia. Temperatures in the Arctic are increasing three times the global rate.
#UN; #ClimateChange; #WorldMigratory
New York/Canadian-Media: A sure sign of spring in northern Europe is the arrival of the Arctic tern bird, but ahead of the UN’s World Migratory Bird Day experts fear the warming of the oceans in its nesting grounds in the northern Atlantic is threatening its very existence.
Arctic terns protect their offspring extremely aggressively. Image credit: Andreas Weith
A big adventure
“When terns reach Antarctica, they stay close to the ice-brim, and move gradually eastward”, says Guðmundur A. Guðmundsson, animal ecologist at the Institute of Natural History in Iceland. “Swedish and Dutch birds go all the way towards Australia, but the Icelandic and Greenland birds return earlier to the Weddell Sea in the Southern Arctic. From there they set off north in March and up to one and a half months later they reach their destination in our country”.
In the case of Iceland, the terns announce spring in the latter part of April, when they arrive to nest. When the chicks are ready to fledge in August they fly to the south, but not in a straight line, rather in an S-shape trajectory. One of their well-known stop-overs is Cape Town in South Africa in November.
En route to their nesting grounds in Iceland and Greenland they are known to have stop-overs in Brazil and cross the Andes mountain range. “It is a big adventure,“ says Mr. Guðmundsson.
A front row seat at planetary crisesHowever, he is concerned by the decline in Iceland’s tern population – which currently stands at some 250,000 nesting couples – over the last few decades, with climate change the probable culprit.
Because of the warming ocean, algae are blooming earlier in the year, too early for young sand eels to feed. This means that stocks of sand eel, an important food source for migratory sea birds, have collapsed in the seas around Iceland.
Although the tern is not at risk of extinction in the short term, enough concern has been raised for the bird to be added to the be added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.
Inger Andersen the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), says that migratory birds have “a front row seat to the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.”
“Climate change is changing and disturbing the migratory patterns of birds,” adds Ms. Andersen. “The destruction of the natural world threatens these pollinators, critical for food security and well-being. And pollution, whether in waterbodies, land or air, is proving toxic for migratory birds.
“Climate change is changing and disturbing the migratory patterns of birds,” adds Ms. Andersen. “The destruction of the natural world threatens these pollinators, critical for food security and well-being. And pollution, whether in waterbodies, land or air, is proving toxic for migratory birds”.World Migratory Bird Day
World Migratory Bird Day
#EnvironmentAndClimateChange; #ZeroEmission; #COP26ClimateSummit; #OECD
All countries should commit to zero carbon emissions by 2050 if the world is to avoid a disastrous 2.4 degree Celsius temperature rise by the end of this century, UN Secretary General António Guterres said on Thursday.
Peatland forests like this one in central Kalimantan, Indonesia, can store harmful carbon dioxide gasses. Image credit: CIFOR/Nanang Sujana
In his keynote speech at a high-level climate gathering in Petersberg, Germany - six months before world leaders convene in Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 Climate Summit - the UN chief also offered a message of hope, insisting that it was still possible to avert the worst impacts of emissions-fuelled environmental shocks.
“I see encouraging signs from some major economies”, he said, referring to countries that represent 73 percent of emissions have committed to net-zero emissions by mid-century.
All countries – especially in the G20 – need to close the mitigation gap further by COP26, he insisted, highlighting the threat already faced by developing countries, where “people are dying, farms are failing (and) millions face displacement”.
Degrees of hope
“The bottom line is that, by 2030, we must cut global emissions by 45 percent compared to 2010 levels to get to net zero emissions by 2050. That is how we will keep the hope of 1.5 degrees alive.”
The world’s top priority should be to dispense with polluting coal-fired power stations altogether and replace them with renewable energy, the UN Secretary-General maintained.
This should happen by 2030 in the wealthy countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and by 2040 across the globe.
Dramatic as this transition away from fossil fuel will be, it must be inclusive and “just…involving local governments, unions and the private sector to support affected communities and generate green jobs”, Mr. Guterres continued.
After hailing governments that had pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies, the UN Secretary-General insisted that it was time for all countries to “put a price on carbon and shift taxation from income to carbon”.
And in a direct appeal to concerned citizens, he asked “shareholders of multilateral development banks and development finance institutions” to push for funding solutions for “low-carbon, climate-resilient development that is aligned with the 1.5 degrees (2015 Paris Agreement) goal”.
Developing countries needed this financial support in particular, as annual adaptation costs in the developing world alone are estimated at $70 billion “and these could rise to $300 billion by 2030”, the UN chief explained.
“I reiterate my call to donors and multilateral development banks to ensure that at least 50 per cent of climate finance is for adaption and resilience”, Mr. Guterres said, noting that “adaptation finance” to developing countries represents only 21 per cent of climate finance today.
The Petersberg Climate Dialogue is an annual event that has been convened by Germany since 2010. It brings together ministers from over 30 countries, top executives, civil society and subnational leaders in preparation for the annual climate COP, which will be held in Glasgow from 1 to 12 November.
#Environment; #ClimateChange; #deforestation; #UN
New York/Canadian-Media: Forests are at the core of our efforts to restore our relationship with the natural world, the deputy UN chief said on Monday at the UN Forum on Forests.
Sunlight streams through a forest in Germany. Unsplash/Sebastian Unrau
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said we were at a “make-or-break moment”, adding that woodlands provide vital functions, including as guardians of fresh water sources and biodiversity protection.
“Forests are at the core of the solutions that can help us make peace with nature”, she underscored, stressing that "we need all-hands-on-deck" to support of forests worldwide.
Moreover, failure to protect them would have a major, negative impact on damaging and rising carbon emissions.
The deputy UN chief said that forests must be adequately financed, including through alleviating debt burdens for those States which are expected to do more for woodland protection and sustainable agriculture overall.
‘Wide-ranging global crises’
Pointing out that the world is facing “wide-ranging global crises” that are “intrinsically linked” to the health and sustainability of our environment, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir called the discussion “particularly timely”.
Building political momentum
The UN official drew attention to a high-level dialogue on 20 May that will focus on pandemic recovery and highlight how to help tackle desertification, land degradation and drought.
It will encompass a “strong push around the need to use this momentous recovery effort to create jobs and shovel-ready projects that support land restoration, regenerative agriculture, renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as investments in sustainable land management”, said Mr. Bozkir.
He hoped that the discussion would also help support the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, degradation neutrality targets and national drought plans – in line with the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Nationally Determined Contributions of countries’ commitments to increasing climate actions through the 2015 Paris Agreement, and future commitments under the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
The Assembly president noted that 2021 will be “a milestone year for the three Rio Conventions on Desertification, Biodiversity and Climate Change”, adding that these important issues are linked and actions must be coordinated for maximum impact.
Forests offer hope to heal people, environment and economy -- FAO chief
Liu Zhenmin, head of the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, spoke about new research linking successful forest restoration with rolling back biodiversity loss and species extinction.
He maintained that well preserved habitats and healthy agriculture are key pathways forward and also underscored the importance of indigenous people in forest protection and preservation, calling their role “paramount”.
“Investing in forests is investing in our future”, he said. “We must strengthen our global efforts to protect and restore forests and support the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. Only then can we realize our shared vision for a more just, equitable and sustainable world”.
Forests are key
In his video message, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), called healthy forests the key to “building back better”.
As they provide energy, food security and income while also storing carbon and housing most of the Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity, he said that "forests offer hope to heal people, environment and economy".
"Our generation must be the one that halts deforestation, biodiversity loss and climate change...and achieve better nutrition, better production, a better environment and a better life", the FAO chief said.
Global Forest Goals Report
The event also launched the Global Forest Goals Report 2021, which evaluates where the world stands in implementing the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2030.
While the world had been making progress in key areas, such as increasing global forest area through afforestation and restoration, findings reveal that the worsening state of our natural environment is threatening these and other gains.
“Before the pandemic, many countries were working hard to reverse native forest loss and increase protected areas designated for biodiversity conservation”, wrote Secretary-General António Guterres in the report’s foreword.
#ClimateChange; #GreenPath; #UN; #VirtualClimateSummit
UN/Canadian-Media: World leaders must act now and put the planet on a green path because “we are at the verge of the abyss”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday in his address to the virtual climate summit convened by United States President Joseph Biden.
Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by US President Joe Biden. Image credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider
"Mother Nature is not waiting”, the UN chief warned, as the past decade was the hottest on record, and the world continues to see rising sea-levels, scorching temperatures, devastating tropical cyclones and epic wildfires.
US commitment and investment The Secretary-General thanked President Biden for hosting the two-day Leaders Summit on Climate, and applauded US commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
In his introductory remarks, President Biden announced the country would slash emissions in half, by 2030. He spoke of the “extraordinary job creation and economic opportunity” that climate response provides, proposing investments in sectors such as energy, transportation, construction and farming.
President Biden acknowledged that no nation can solve the climate emergency alone, and he called for leaders of the world’s largest economies to “step up” in the race to a sustainable future.
“Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade. This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” he said.
Net-zero coalition Mr. Guterres used the Summit to amplify his call for a global coalition to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and for countries to ramp up their commitments under the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change.
The 2015 treaty aims to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and requires governments to commit to increasingly ambitious climate action through plans known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
#AirPollution; #Covid19; #ESA; #ESACopernicusSentinel5PMission; #Europe; #Tropomiinstrument
New York/Canadian-Media: Nationwide lockdowns put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 during early 2020 coincided with a decline in air pollution shown by the data collected from satellites. The reverse situation prevailed one year later with relaxation of restrictions of the lockdown and prevalence of regular activities in some countries when nitrogen dioxide levels bounced back to pre-COVID levels, European Space Agency (ESA) news reports said.
ESA. Image credit: Wikipedia
On 23 January 2020, the world saw the first coronavirus lockdown come into force in Wuhan and similar measures were then put in place worldwide in the following weeks and months which resulted in a significant reduction in air pollutants across China as detected by satellites. including reduced emissions of nitrogen dioxide – a gas that pollutes the air mainly as a result of traffic and the combustion of fossil fuel in industrial processes.
With the ease of restrictions an year later, the average level of air pollutants has rebounded and is on the rise again. The maps below show the monthly average concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, derived from data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, in the central and eastern portions of China in February 2019, February 2020 and February 2021. The map shows the fluctuation in levels between the three periods, with dark red indicating high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide.
Nitrogen dioxide concentrations over China. Image credit: Official website of ESA
Nitrogen dioxide concentrations in Beijing, indicated by the data dropped by around 35 percent between February 2019 and 2020 before returning to similar levels in February 2021, whereas in Chongqing, nitrogen dioxide dropped by approximately 45 percent between February 2019 and February 2020, before returning to almost double pre-COVID numbers.
The data is collected by Tropomi instrument on board the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite – the first Copernicus mission dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere.
Claus Zehner, ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager, says, “We expected air pollution to rebound as lockdowns are lifted across the globe. Nitrogen dioxide concentrations in our atmosphere do not depend on human activity alone. Weather conditions such as wind speed and cloud cover also affect those levels, however a large quantity of these reductions are due to restrictions being eased. In the coming weeks and months, we expect increases of nitrogen dioxide concentrations also over Europe.”
Claus continues, “The special features of the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, with its high spatial resolution and accurate ability to observe trace gases compared to other atmospheric satellite missions, allows us to generate these unique nitrogen dioxide concentration measurement maps from space.”
Tropomi instrument, which is used to map a multitude of trace gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and aerosols is carried by the satellite.
#UNEP; #GreenRecovery; #Covid19Pandemic
UNEP/Canadian-Media: One year from the onset of the pandemic, recovery spending has fallen short of nations’ commitments to build back more sustainably.
Image credit: Twitter handle
An analysis of spending by leading economies, led by Oxford’s Economic Recovery Project and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), finds only 18.0% of announced recovery spending can be considered ‘green.’
The report, Are We Building Back Better? Evidence from 2020 and Pathways for Inclusive Green Recovery Spending, calls for governments to invest more sustainably and tackle inequalities as they stimulate growth in the wake of the devastation wrought by the pandemic.
The most comprehensive analysis of COVID-19-related fiscal rescue and recovery efforts by 50 leading economies so far, the report reveals that only $368bn of $14.6tn COVID-induced spending (rescue and recovery) in 2020 was green.
UNEP’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen: “Humanity is facing a pandemic, an economic crisis and an ecological breakdown - we cannot afford to lose on any front. Governments have a unique chance to put their countries on sustainable trajectories that prioritize economic opportunity, poverty reduction and planetary health at once - the Observatory gives them the tools to navigate to more sustainable and inclusive recoveries.”
Brian O’Callaghan, lead researcher at the Oxford University Economic Recovery Project and the report’s author: “Despite positive steps towards a sustainable COVID-19 recovery from a few leading nations, the world has so far fallen short of matching aspirations to build back better. But opportunities to spend wisely on recovery are not yet over. Governments can use this moment to secure long-term economic, social, and environmental prosperity.”
“Our ability to better inform and monitor the investments made by countries to address the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is vital to keep the green, inclusive recovery on track,” says Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “In this respect, the Global Recovery Observatory and UNDP’s Data Futures Platform offer policymakers a rich new set of data points and insights – expanding access to such resources will help to increase the transparency, accountability, and effectiveness of the investments being made now and their impact on our sustainable future.”
Professor of Environmental Economics at Oxford, Cameron Hepburn: “This report is a wake-up call. The data from the Global Recovery Observatory show that we are not building back better, at least not yet. We know a green recovery would be a win for the economy as well as the climate - now we need to get on with it.”
The report emphasizes that green recovery can bring stronger economic growth, while helping to meet global environmental targets and addressing structural inequality. To keep decades of progress against poverty from unwinding, low-income countries will require substantial concessional finance from international partners.
It raises five key questions for the road to sustainable recovery: