Renewables outcompeting gas. This has been true for a while, even before recent events have spiked the price of fossil gas. See vids above and below.

CNBC:

  • According to the findings of climate analytics firm TransitionZero, it is now cheaper to switch from coal to clean energy, compared to switching from coal to gas.
  • That’s thanks to the falling cost of renewables and battery storage, coupled with the rising volatility of gas prices.
  • Investing in renewables provides a hedge against climate change risks, said Jacqueline Tao, an analyst at TransitionZero.

Record-high coal and gas prices have been pushing prices higher for consumers and businesses alike, but there could be a silver lining.

According to the findings of climate analytics firm TransitionZero, it is now cheaper to switch from coal to clean energy, compared to switching from coal to gas — thanks to the falling cost of renewables and battery storage, coupled with the rising volatility of gas prices.

“The carbon price needed to incentivize the switch from coal generation to renewable energy for storage has dipped to a negative price,” said Jacqueline Tao, an analyst at TransitionZero.

“So essentially that means that you can actually switch to renewables at a cost saving,” she told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Wednesday.

The report claims that the global average cost of switching from coal to renewable energy has plunged by 99% since 2010, compared to switching from coal to gas.

Using its Coal to Clean Carbon Price Index — or C3PI project — the company measured the carbon price level it takes to motivate 25 countries to switch fuels, from existing coal to renewables such as new onshore wind or solar photovoltaics plus battery.

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New York Times:

Australia is a land of portent for the many dangers posed by climate change. The fires, storms, heat waves and other catastrophes that climatologists predict for the planet are already routine here. They also loom over national elections on May 21.

Not for the first time. Two of the country’s last three elections hinged in some measure on the climate-versus-jobs debate, with Mother Nature losing out. But recently the political temperature has changed. The rising toll exacted by extreme weather — particularly mega-fires in 2019 and 2020 — is resonating with the public.

That’s bad news for Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Climate inaction helped to propel Mr. Morrison to the leadership of the conservative Liberal-National coalition in 2018, but he’s in a tough fight now. Polls this week showed the opposition Labor Party with 51 percent of votes, to 49 percent for the coalition. If that bears out, Australia may serve not merely as a preview of climate peril, but of the risks faced by politicians who shrug it off.

Ignoring climate concerns wasn’t always a weak point for Mr. Morrison. The coalition government that he now leads was first elected in 2013 in part on a promise to rescind attempts at carbon pricing by the previous Labor government. This policy won support from the mining lobby and voters who were fed fearful rhetoric about environmentalism’s relentless creep on local industry and jobs. It was an effective strategy in a country that is a major exporter of fossil fuels and home of the world’s largest coal port. A belt of parliamentary seats runs through communities where well-paid jobs in mines represent rare and precious economic opportunity and carry enough weight to influence elections.

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When White settlers reached the Great Plains, topsoils were in the range of 6 feet deep.

Now it’s more like 6 inches, with a large portion of it blown away or flushed down the Mississippi to create a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, the size of Massachusetts.
Sequestering carbon in soils is potentially an important puzzle piece in decarbonizing the economy.

Farmers Weekly:

“Weaponising soils” to boost carbon sequestration is part of Somerset dairy Yeo Valley’s long-term plans to fight climate change, while producing nutritious, healthy food.

The organic dairy brand has set itself the target of increasing soil carbon by 25% in the next 40 years at its two dairies in Blagdon, Somerset.

By doing so, the farms will carry a net carbon footprint of zero, which will help to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the brand.

Farming is a key area for attention since it is responsible for 74% of the business’s total carbon footprint.

In 2020, Yeo Valley Farms, with the help of the Farm Carbon Toolkit (FCT), sampled their 809ha (2,000 acres) of farmland to get an indication of soil carbon levels.

Their reasoning was linked to figures from Iowa State University, which showed soils store more carbon than the atmosphere and all of the world’s plants and forests combined.

Tim Mead, director of Yeo Valley Farms, says it is important to recognise this “huge climate asset”, determine base level carbon stocks and ways to raise them.

With one-third more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than 60 years ago, he believes regenerative agriculture is part of the solution to reversing climate change.

Regenerative farming is focused on agricultural practices that build soil health and increase biodiversity and water cycling with the aim of fighting climate change.

Raising soil organic matter is one way to bolster soil’s carbon storage potential, while also bringing production benefits.

Becky Willson, business development and technical director for FCT, says: “There is a really nice link [between] soil organic matter, soil organic carbon, soil resilience and soil health.” (See “The numbers”).

This means building organic matter and carbon can help with factors such as nutrient cycling, water infiltration and production of quality forage.

Above: ZEVTC = Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council. RoW = Rest of World

Update from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “supporting the work of the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council, an international forum that convenes governments representing over half of the world’s car market, to accelerate the pace of the global transition to zero-emission vehicles.”

Bloomberg New Energy Finance:

  • Global passenger electric vehicle (EV) sales grew by 103% in 2021, to nearly 6.6 million units. ZEVTC member countries combined were responsible for 50% of these EV sales. About 70% of global EV sales were pure battery electric vehicles, which are zero-emission at the tailpipe. Around 30% were plug-in hybrids, while fuel cell vehicles were below 1% of the market.
  • Globally, EVs accounted for 13% of passenger vehicle sales in 4Q 2021, or 9% when excluding plug-in hybrids. If plug-in hybrids are included, countries such as Norway (97%), Sweden (60%), Netherlands (51%) and Denmark (49%) have reached very high sales penetrations as of 4Q 2021, demonstrating true mass-market demand for cleaner vehicles. Other countries are still getting their markets started.
  • The public charging infrastructure base is growing steadily. The typical ZEVTC country added about 20-30% to its installed base of public charging connectors in 2021, while some (notably India and Italy) added connectors at a much higher rate.
  • Several automakers with headquarters or major operations in ZEVTC countries have surpassed 10% EVs in their sales mix: BMW, Geely, Mercedes-Benz and VW Group. Tesla has been the leading EV manufacturer since 2018.
  • Sales of zero-emission trucks are still very low, putting commercial vehicle decarbonization far behind the progress made in passenger vehicles. However, three major truck manufacturers have recently presented plans for zero emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Between 2019-2021, these three manufacturers (Daimler, Volvo and Traton) sold around 450,000 units annually in ZEVTC countries, accounting for about 30% of the market.
  • Global oil demand in road transport reached roughly 43.7 million barrels per day in 2021, a slight increase since 2015. The adoption of electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles avoided almost 1.5 millions of barrels of oil per day in 2021 – about 3.3% of total demand. The displaced demand is roughly equivalent to one-fifth of Russia’s total oil and oil products exports prior to the war, and roughly double Germany’s imports of Russian oil and products at the end of 2021.

Are we sick enough of fossil fuel wars to actually do something about them?
Pushback starts with renewable energy.

Above, Texas demand projections for today, as well as projected renewable generation

Texas Energy analyst Doug Lewin this morning on Twitter:

#ERCOT projecting demand of 71.7GW. Again, all time *June* record is 70.2GW.

13.3GW of thermal plants offline as of 8am. Up 30% from the weekend & up 700MW since yesterday.

Might be ERCOT let some go back into maintenance bc renewables expected at ~22GW *on peak*.

Chris Tomlinson in the Houston Chronicle:

The Texas electric grid remains broken, and state officials remain sadly focused on enriching fossil fuel companies with patchwork fixes that will run up costs for consumers and sacrifice future reliability.

If Texans don’t speak up quickly, we’ll end up paying more for polluting power plants while missing out on the most profound revolution in electricity service in a half-century.

Over the last two weeks, the heat wave has exposed the critical flaws in the grid operated by ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. ERCOT officials and their bosses at the Public Utility Commission, meanwhile, have misled the public to protect fossil fuel burners.

ERCOT manages the grid that takes electric power from more than 1,000 generators and delivers up to 77 gigawatts across 52,700 miles of transmission lines to 26 million customers. The nonprofit operates a wholesale market where generators compete to offer the cheapest electricity to meet the next day’s needs.

The greater the demand, the higher the price ERCOT will pay based on an algorithm. Offering higher prices is the only method ERCOT possesses to encourage more generation.

ERCOT buys the electricity that consumers need the next day at the lowest possible price. Retail electric providers, municipal utilities and cooperatives buy the power their customers need from ERCOT, which settles the accounts.

Different electricity suppliers offer different amounts of electricity at various prices depending on the time of day. Solar generators, for example, don’t offer electricity at night. Expensive, quick-start natural gas plants offer to generate only when prices are extra high.

But more and more frequently, fossil fuel generators fail to deliver, and ERCOT struggles to keep the lights on.

On Friday, ERCOT called on Texans to conserve electricity because the heat drove up demand, and six generators shut down unexpectedly. ERCOT has not identified the corporations involved, but the power plants were almost certainly fossil fuel generators that overheated or were poorly maintained.

ERCOT’s news release, though, featured deeply misleading statistics that implied renewable energy sources were the culprit.

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World Meteorological Organization released its “State of the Climate” report.

It’s concerning that the steady drumbeat of dire warnings all kind of fades into a background drone – leaving people chronically anxious but not motivated to actually make change.

Axios:

The big picture: The WMO report confirms the past seven years were the warmest such period on record.

  • 2021 was comparatively cool, at 1.11°C above the pre-industrial level, due to a La Niña event in the tropical Pacific Ocean. 
  • Once that event ends, and an inevitable El Niño sets in, a new warmest year will be crowned. 

Zoom in: Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new high in 2021 and recently hit 420.23 ppm for the month of April 2022. 

  • Temperatures will continue to increase as long as carbon dioxide levels continue to go up, with a leveling off taking place once emissions reach zero. 
  • Ocean heat content hit a record high in 2021 — a telltale sign of a planet that is absorbing far more heat than it is releasing back into space. The vast majority of this extra heat goes into the oceans, with increasing temperatures in the upper 2,000 meters. 
  • Marine species are on the move as the ocean warms, and warming waters are altering the ocean’s ability to function as a giant carbon sink. Ocean chemistry is also changing as more CO2 is taken in, making waters more acidic. 

Threat level: Heat waves aren’t just a phenomenon felt on land, either, with marine heat waves observed on a global scale during 2021, wiping out some coral reefs and damaging others. 

  • Global mean sea level reached a record high too, with seas swelling at a faster rate than in the 1990s, which scientists have attributed to the growing ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica. 
  • The report highlights record ice mass loss among glaciers in Canada and the Pacific Northwest from extreme heat and wildfires last summer. 

The bottom line: The report amounts to an annual climate report card, and the planet fails to earn a passing grade. 

Yes, but: There are numerous solutions available to alter the planet’s trajectory if leaders act with urgency, as study after study has shown.

Reuters:

After decades of struggle, the U.S. clean-energy business is booming, with soaring electric-car sales and fast growth in wind and solar power. That’s raising hopes for the fight against climate change.

All this progress, however, could be derailed without a massive overhaul of America’s antiquated electric infrastructure – a task some industry experts say requires more than $2 trillion. The current network of transmission wires, substations and transformers is decaying with age and underinvestment, a condition highlighted by catastrophic failures during increasingly frequent and severe weather events.

Power outages over the last six years have more than doubled in number compared to the previous six years, according to a Reuters examination of federal data. In the past two years, power systems have collapsed in Gulf Coast hurricanes, West Coast wildfires, Midwest heat waves and a Texas deep freeze, causing long and sometimes deadly outages.

Compounding the problem, the seven regional grid operators in the United States are underestimating the growing threat of severe weather caused by climate change, Reuters found in a review of more than 10,000 pages of regulatory documents and operators’ public disclosures. Their risk models, used to guide transmission-network investments, consider historical weather patterns extending as far back as the 1970s. None account for scientific research documenting today’s more extreme weather and how it can disrupt grid generation, transmission and fuel supplies simultaneously.

The decrepit power infrastructure of the world’s largest economy is among the biggest obstacles to expanding clean energy and combating climate change on the ambitious schedule laid out by U.S. President Joe Biden. His administration promises to eliminate or offset carbon emissions from the power sector by 2035 and from the entire U.S. economy by 2050. Such rapid clean-energy growth would pressure the nation’s grid in two ways: Widespread EV adoption will spark a huge surge in power demand; and increasing dependence on renewable power creates reliability problems on days with less sun or wind.

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Most interesting thing in this short local news piece is evidence of how quickly Lake Mead is evaporating.

UKFires:

Three Cambridge engineers, Dr Cyrille Dunant, Dr Pippa Horton and Professor Julian Allwood, have filed a patent and been awarded new research funding for their invention of the world’s first ever zero-emissions cement.

Replacing today’s cement is one of the hardest challenges on the journey to a safe climate with zero emissions. There are many options to make cement with reduced emissions, mainly based on mixing new reactive cement (clinker) with other supplementary materials. However, until now, it has not been possible to make the reactive component of cement without emissions. The new invention achieves this for the first time.

The inspiration for Cambridge Electric Cement struck inventor Cyrille Dunant, when he noticed that the chemistry of used cement is virtually identical to that of the lime-flux used in conventional steel recycling processes. The new cement is therefore made in a virtuous recycling loop, that not only eliminates the emissions of cement production, but also saves raw materials, and even reduces the emissions required in making lime-flux. The new process begins with concrete waste from demolition of old buildings. This is crushed, to separate the stones and sand that form concrete from the mixture of cement powder and water that bind them together. The old cement powder is then used instead of lime-flux in steel recycling. As the steel melts, the flux forms a slag that floats on the liquid steel, to protect it from oxygen in the air. After the recycled steel is tapped off, the liquid slag is cooled rapidly in air, and ground up into a powder which is virtually identical to the clinker which is the basis of new Portland cement. In pilot-scale trials of the new process, the Cambridge team have demonstrated this combined recycling process, and the results show all the properties of cement made by today’s conventional process.

The new cement was invented as part of the large multi-university UK FIRES programme led by Professor Allwood, which aims to enable a rapid transition to zero emissions based on using today’s technologies differently, rather than waiting for the new energy technologies of hydrogen and carbon storage. Invention of the cement has been rewarded with a new research grant of £1.7m from EPSRC, to allow the inventors to collaborate with Dr Zushu Li at Warwick University and Dr Rupert Myers at Imperial College, to reveal the underlying science behind the new process. The new grant will fund an additional team of researchers, to probe the range of concrete wastes that can be processed into Cambridge Electric Cement, evaluate how the process interacts with steel making, and confirm the performance of the resulting material.

Professor Allwood said ‘If Cambridge Electric Cement lives up to the promise it has shown in early laboratory trials, it could be a turning point in the journey to a safe future climate. Combining steel and cement recycling in a single process powered by renewable electricity, this could secure the supply of the basic materials of construction to support the infrastructure of a zero emissions world and to enable economic development where it is most needed.’