Britain plans to become the world’s cleanest country by cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Claire Perry, the energy minister, will announce the target tomorrow: the transport, aviation, farming and power industries will be ordered to comply. The UK emits about 500m tons of CO2 a year, mostly from using gas, petrol, diesel and coal, so reducing to zero would be a huge challenge. The plan pitches Perry against Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, who wants to expand airports and roads, hoping a surge in construction will create a post-Brexit economic boost. Perry will warn that the threat from climate change is the bigger issue, describing it as among “the greatest global challenges ever faced”. The UK already aims to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 but Perry wants to go further. She has asked the Committee on Climate Change to find out how the UK could reach zero emissions. At present, aviation generates about 35m tons of CO2; another 125m tons comes from surface transport and 64m tons from home heating. Jim Skea, professor of sustainable energy at Imperial College London and a committee member, said: “Some sectors will have to become carbon sinks – taking CO2 out of the air, for example by planting trees, expanding wetlands or burning wood in power stations – and pumping the CO2 they produce into the ground.”
Times 14th Oct 2018 read more »
Walt Patterson: Today’s electricity market, however, treats electricity as a commodity – as though it were a resource to use up rather than just to use. The phrase ‘electricity consumption’ is commonplace. The flow of electricity is metered and measured, and transactions are based on the number of kilowatt-hours passing through the meter. When electricity is generated with fire, dammed water or fission, resources are consumed. In such a case, to treat electricity itself as something to be consumed is at least consistent. This does, however, take for granted the durable long-term resources also required to deliver the electric service, namely the physical infrastructure of the system, which are not consumed. However, with ‘run-of-the-river’ hydro, and yet more so of wind and solar generation, treating electricity as a commodity to be consumed is fundamentally flawed. Nothing is ‘consumed’ to generate this electricity – nothing physical at any rate. The resources to establish ‘run-of-the-river’ hydro power, wind power and solar power are used but not used up. They create durable physical assets that become infrastructure – infrastructure that produces electricity. The financial transactions involved are investments – not short-term transactions like those for commodities that are consumed. And the revenue streams for infrastructure electricity are determined by long-term business relationships – not short-term commodity transactions or markets. The political implications and consequences of this transformation will be fundamental and far-reaching. Some unfamiliar resources will become important and valuable. But resources now evaluated as worth trillions of dollars may gradually become worthless. The politics of electric resources are long since hotly contested. They will become yet more so.
Hoffmann Centre 28th Sept 2018 read more »
Does the IPCC consider nuclear as a solution for climate? The IPCC points out that “the transition from the energy system that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C is underway in many sectors and regions of the world. The technical, social, economic and political feasibility of solar energy, wind energy and electricity storage technologies has improved considerably in recent years, while nuclear energy and Carbon dioxide (CCS) storage in the electricity sector did not show the same improvements.” The current timeframe between the date of decision and the commissioning of nuclear power plants is between 10 and 19 years, and current deployment capacity is slowed by public concern about the risk of accidents and problems with nuclear waste. In addition, the IPCC notes, that “the costs of nuclear energy have increased over time in some developed nations, mainly because of the prevailing conditions, where increased investment risks in high-capital-intensive technologies have become important.” The theoretical benefits that nuclear energy could bring in the fight against climate change are therefore far too weak, too slow, too expensive and too risky. While the IPCC report requires us to quickly reduce emissions, it is not possible to choose the slowest and most expensive electric generation technology to deploy, as well as the dirtiest and riskiest. Nuclear power is disqualified from the race of the climatic fight.
Greenpeace France (accessed) 14th Oct 2018 read more »