In the Arctic tundra, permafrost peatland burned across 20 km on 1 July 2020. This true-color image, captured by a European Space Agency Sentinel-2 satellite, is overlaid with fire hot spots observed with IR light. Credit: Satellite photo created by Adrià Descals; imagery acquired by the European Space Agency

Physics Today:

As temperatures around the world rise, the threat of wildfires is becoming increasingly common. In a populated place like California, for example, blazes in 2018 and 2020 killed dozens of people while burning hundreds of thousands of acres and causing billions of dollars in damages. Unfortunately, the situation is only getting worse (see “Fire season in the western US is intensifying,” Physics Today online, 21 June 2021).

Even though wildfires in low-populated areas may be less of an immediate danger to people, they’re still releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and exacerbating climate change. That’s especially true in the Arctic. Because rising temperatures melt snow and ice and the liquid water reflects less sunlight than snow, the area warms further in a positive ice–albedo feedback loop. The mechanism is amplifying temperatures in northern latitudes and causing the region to warm about twice as fast as the global average. Early data on the 2019–21 fire seasons has suggested that summer blazes in the Siberian Arctic were particularly widespread.

To better connect how warmer-than-average temperatures lead to exceptional fire activity, two teams analyzed satellite-derived maps of burned areas in the Siberian Arctic. Both found that several recent fire seasons had exceptional total areas burned compared with the average over the past four decades. Although the work is preliminary, it suggests that snow will continue to melt earlier each season, and a changing Arctic atmospheric circulation will accelerate fire activity.

Adrià Descals, of the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications in Spain, and his colleagues found that of the 92 000 km2 of burned area in the Siberian Arctic over 1982–2020, some 44% of that total burned in 2019 and 2020 alone. Worsening fire-risk factors are to blame: climate variables, such as air temperature and atmospheric drought, and vegetation conditions, such as the length of the growing season.

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Tension between developers and tight water supply.

KUOW Seattle:

The largest glacier between the high peaks of Mount Rainier and Glacier Peak has melted away after a long battle with global warming.

For thousands of years, the Hinman Glacier graced the crest of the Washington Cascades in what is now King County.

Fifty miles due east of downtown Seattle, Mount Hinman sits deep in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, midway between Snoqualmie Pass and Stevens Pass.

Nichols College glaciologist Mauri Pelto led a team to Mount Hinman in August 2022, as he has most summers since 1984. This time, they found its namesake glacier was no more.

In its place were just a few stranded patches of snow and ice.

“This is the biggest North Cascade glacier to completely disappear,” Pelto said. “I’ve seen a bunch of small glaciers disappear, and to see one of the larger glaciers disappear is more striking.”

Until recently, the Hinman was one of four named glaciers that provided cool water to the Skykomish River in the hottest, driest time of the year.

The glaciers of the Skykomish basin have lost 55% of their surface area since the 1950s, according to Pelto.

“What that means is, you have 55% less of an ice cube there to melt all summer long,” Pelto said.

As the Hinman dwindled to almost nothing in recent decades, late-summer flows got lower in the Skykomish River, bad news for salmon and farmers.

The Hinman Glacier was ancient, though how ancient is unknown. It might date from the retreat of the Cordilleran ice sheet, which left glaciers atop the Cascades and Olympics 14,000 years ago. Pelto said there is strong evidence that the Hinman was older than the explosion of Mount Mazama, which created Oregon’s Crater Lake, 7,000 years ago.

In the 1950s, the Hinman Glacier flowed a mile and a half from the broad top of 7,492-foot Mount Hinman to the valley floor nearly 2,000 feet below.

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The Hill:

Four years of drilling for energy deep underground would be enough to build Texas a carbon-free state electric grid, a new study by an alliance of state universities has found.  

The state’s flagship universities — including the University of Texas at Austin, Rice University and Texas A&M University — collaborated with the International Energy Agency to produce the landmark report.  

It depicts the Texas geothermal industry as a potential partner to the state’s enormous oil and gas sector — or an ultimate escape hatch.  

In the best case, the industry represents “an accelerating trend” that could replicate — or surpass — the fracking boom, said Jamie Beard of the Texas Geothermal Entrepreneurship Organization at the University of Texas.

“Instead of aiming for a 2050 moonshot that we have to achieve some scientific breakthrough for — geothermal is deployable now,” Beard said. “We can be building power plants now.”

The authors stressed that the geothermal, oil and gas industries all rely on the same fundamental skillset — interpreting Texas’s unique geology to find valuable underground liquids.  

In this case, however, the liquid in question had long been seen as a waste product: superheated water released as drillers sought oil and gas.   

About “44 terawatts of energy flow continually out of the earth and into space,” said Ken Wisan, an economic geologist at the University of Texas.  

“Rock is a great heat battery, and the upper 10 miles of the core holds an estimated 1,000 years’ worth of our energy needs in the form of stored energy,” Wisan added. 

Most of the state’s population lives above potentially usable geothermal heat — as long as there’s a will to drill deep enough.  

Superheated trapped steam that is nearly 300 degrees Fahrenheit — the sweet spot for modern geothermal — is accessible about three to five miles below the state capital of Austin and 2 1/2 to 3 miles beneath its most prominent city of Houston, the report found. 

The report casts geothermal energy as a possible way out of two energy paradoxes. 

The first concerns the state’s beleaguered electric grid. The isolated system has been repeatedly driven nearly to the point of blackouts by extreme heat and cold, as well as the relentless, demanding growth of the state population. 

According to the Energy Information Agency, the state’s substantial renewable potential is meeting part of this growth: Texas leads the nation in wind energy and has near-leading solar potential.  

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I recently posted about the increasing costs and delays cropping for proposed Small Modular Nuclear reactors (SMR).

Over the last few years, smart people that I have been talking to have increasingly mentioned geothermal energy, especially the newer, so called “deep geothermal” technologies, as potential dark horses in the decarbonization race. (see Daniel Cohan of Rice above, who says new geothermal could be “breathtaking”- below, Michael Webber of U Texas)

One of the more prominent SMR efforts is being built in Utah, backed by a consortium of utilities. Some of them have been getting a little wobbly as bad news about the project keeps piling up. Now, another developer is offering a potential alternative, using a combination of well-proven, standard geothermal technologies, and a very promising new tech.


The U.S. state of Utah is processing an agreement for a new Small Modular Reactor (SMR) to provide baseline and dispatchable power. The SMR bid quotes a price of $89/MWh. But cost overruns will tie the state’s consumers to whatever high prices entail, says Dennis Wamsted at IEEFA. Now a geothermal bid from NV Energy has been presented that offers the same capacity at around $70/MWh. Wamsted explains why the 140MW geothermal project would meet Utah’s needs sooner and cost less than the SMR. 120MW will use a proven geothermal solution, with the remaining 20MW using a new closed-loop system. Combined, it will provide round-the-clock capacity, and better integrate variable and intermittent resources like wind and solar. The geothermal sector also has the advantage of a pipeline of new drilling technologies and equipment that can operate at higher temperatures, and backing from the U.S. Department of Energy. Wamsted is advising the 27 members of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) to back out of the SMR deal and look at renewable alternatives like geothermal.

Key Findings

  • A Nevada geothermal proposal has the potential to be a less expensive, more certain option for a Utah utility than an unproven small modular reactor (SMR) with rising costs
  • The costs of the geothermal proposal by NV Energy would be considerably cheaper than the SMR proposed by NuScale and based on proven technology
  • The 27 members of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) should consider backing out of contracts that require them to cover the rising costs of the NuScale SMR
  • The 140 megawatts of geothermal projects proposed by NV Energy would meet UAMPS needs sooner and cost less than the SMR

Ballooning costs have thrown plans for the small modular reactor (SMR) proposed by NuScale and backed by members of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems into disarray. A recent proposal by NV Energy in neighbouring Nevada shows that less expensive, more certain options are available, adding more uncertainty to the SMR project.

NV Energy’s proposed 140MW geothermal plant

The company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway whose two operating units are Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power, asked state regulators last month to approve two geothermal power proposals that would provide it with 140 megawatts (MW) of new capacity for the next 25 years (2028-53). The first proposal, for 120MW of conventional geothermal power from Ormat Technologies, would be priced at a flat rate of $69 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for the term of the contract. The second proposal, a novel closed-loop process that could be built over a much wider geographic area, is for 20MW and would cost $70/MWh.

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For all the talk about climate refugees, people continue to move to places where the risks are highest for climate impacts.

How much can the rest of us afford to subsidize those choices?

The 2022 elections have unexpectedly flipped the script in Michigan and Minnesota, giving Democratic lawmakers a “trifecta” of control in legislative houses and the governor’s chair.

Among the target areas that Democrats are going to take on in my home state of Michigan, is siting reform for clean energy projects, many of which have been bogged down by a mob intimidation campaign directed at the smallest units of government, the township Planning Commissions and Boards.

I’m working on this story and will have more soon, but suffice to say many local officials have had harrowing experiences, and they have been sounding off about it to their representatives in Lansing,
So it even before the election , I was hearing strong rumblings even from the Republican side of the aisle, who represent these largely conservative rural districts, that some kind of reform was on the way to break the logjam.

Now that Dems control both houses, and have a strong orientation toward clean energy (along with a large majority of the state’s residents), that kind of reform seems even more likely – but legislators, and the journalists who cover this issue, need to be shaken out of the naive notion that this is somehow about reasonable disagreements among honest local parties.
What we are seeing is a comprehensive and well organized national campaign by the fossil fuel industry and their allies, dozens of “think tanks” around the country, and wealthy real estate developers, using well oiled social media campaigns and a template that includes mobs who move from township to township, disrupting meetings and intimidating officials who dare to care about the future of farming and a livable planet for their grandchildren.


As Bridge recently reported, renewable energy developers are increasingly facing opposition to wind and solar arrays by neighbors who fear declining property values and sullied views if the arrays are built nearby. 

That opposition has frequently resulted in local-level moratoriums on new solar development, or zoning decisions that scuttle developments already in the works. 

Jameson, of MEC, said her group would like to see the Legislature tackle the renewable siting issue as part of a broader energy reform package.

It’s an area of general agreement between environmentalists and utilities. But still unclear is whether the solution might come from legislation to regulate some aspects of solar siting at the state level, education campaigns to sell locals on the benefits of hosting utility-scale wind and solar projects, or tax incentives to make solar more enticing to host communities. 

Hofmeister also said he expects conversation in Lansing about revising tax policies to create “more stable” payments to local communities that host wind and solar, and expedited court reviews for lawsuits against renewable development permits. 

Illinois is already moving ahead with this kind of legislation.

Illinois News Room:

bill awaiting Governor JB Pritzker’s signature will set statewide standards for wind and solar farm siting.

Until now, counties have enjoyed wide latitude in setting the rules for where wind and solar energy arrays can locate. The new law would preempt local ordinances more restrictive than the new state standards.

Jen Walling is executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council. She said some county requirements were so restrictive that they were essentially bans on clean energy developments.

“A number of these counties weren’t representing their constituents and were taking away individual property rights,” she said.

Wind arrays in particular have created controversy, usually from landowners of properties neighboring those participating in the projects. The state law would create a setback requirement of 1.1 times the maximum blade tip height of the wind tower to the nearest point on the property line of nonparticipating properties, or 2.1 times for nonparticipating residences.

The law also requires occupied community buildings or nonparticipating residences not experience more than 30 hours of shadow flicker per year. Those are the moving shadows created by moving wind turbine blades at certain times of the day.

The Illinois Farm Bureau was opposed to House Bill 4412. Director of state legislation Kevin Semlow said the group finds the legislation lacking in some areas.

“Some of the setback distances within the legislation need to be adjusted to better reflect a much safer and adequate way that those facilities should be sited,” Semlow said.

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Ohio is the most corrupt state in the Union – and I don’t just say that because I hate their damn football team.

Above, update on the massive Racketeering Scandal that has rocked the State legislature, but is only the tip of the iceberg. In addition to locking Ohio ratepayers into subsidizing uncompetitive coal powered plants, (even one that’s in Indiana), the state has paved the way for counties to bend to pressure and intimidation tactics and ban clean energy in their boundaries, but not extended that authority to cover fossil fuel development.

The battle for clean energy deployment is taking place at the local level, as the fossil fuel industry has shrewdly identified local jurisdiction as the softest target to block solar and wind projects, by targeting local officials with disruption and intimidation that looks a lot like the attacks we have seen recently on schools, libraries, and health officials, driven by paranoid, right wing social media conspiracy theories.
I’ve been doing a number of interviews with local officials around next-door Michigan, subject to these same tactics, and will have more to reveal about my shocking findings soon. See a related post on this page.

Ohio Capitol Journal:

At least 10 Ohio counties have passed resolutions blocking the development of new utility scale wind and solar projects within all or part of their jurisdictions in the last year.

The counties’ moves come after the October 2021 enactment of a state law giving the locals the veto power over renewable energy generation sites — a veto power that doesn’t exist for fossil fuel developments.

Fox 19 Cincinnati:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) – A federal trial in what prosecutors say is likely the largest bribery and money laundering scheme in Ohio history is expected to begin Monday in Cincinnati.

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and ex-Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges are both accused of racketeering for allegedly running a criminal enterprise that took nearly $61 million in bribes, funneled from First Energy through the non-profit Generation Now, to position Householder as the speaker and then pass and defend House Bill 6, a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.

Ohio lawmakers passed House Bill 6 and Gov. Mike DeWine signed it into law in 2019.

Federal officials have said Householder was a driving force of the financial rescue that tacked a new fee to every electricity bill in Ohio and directed over $150 million annually through 2026 to the plants near Toledo and Cleveland.

Midwest Energy News:

False and unsubstantiated claims about renewable energy have flourished for years, but critics say different forms of misinformation played a big role in Ohio lawmakers’ latest move to stifle the growth of wind and solar energy.

“Misinformation is the means to the end,” said Trish Demeter, chief of staff for the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund. “Misinformation, bad information, misconstrued information, partial information: All of those are tactics that are supporting the goal, which is to block and kill renewable energy from being built in Ohio.”

Senate Bill 52 would let counties keep out new solar and wind farms from all or part of their territories, holding those projects to a higher standard than fossil fuel infrastructure. 

In the case of natural gas, for example, Ohio courts have struck down local zoning laws and other restrictions. And on July 1, Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 201 into law, forbidding local governments from banning natural gas.

In contrast, SB 52 would let counties prevent or limit any particular solar or wind project within their borders. Passed in the wee hours of June 29 with some changes from earlier versions, SB 52 still gives local governments multiple chances to nix renewable energy projects or break them up. Counties and local townships also would get two votes on Ohio Power Siting Board decisions for those projects.

At a minimum, SB 52 extends project timelines and adds uncertainty that critics say will discourage developers from choosing Ohio for renewable energy projects, causing the state to lose out on thousands of jobs.

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There’s going to be a lot of energy storage potential in a lot of garages pretty soon. Leveraging it could be a huge deal for owners, and the energy transition.


Energy software platform Kaluza has announced the launch of Inflexion, a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) bidirectional charging program that it hopes it will open up vehicle to everything technology to all electric vehicle models.

Kaluza has also announced a “world-first” trial to be conducted in the UK with Volkswagen Group, energy retailer Ovo Energy and infotech company Indra, that will mark the first real-world use of bidirectional charging with Combined Charging Systems (CCS), the charging standard now used by most EVs.

The program aims to prove the technology using Volkswagen’s CCS vehicles and Ovo energy customers with the Kaluza’s platform coordinating the system between EV owners and the energy retailer.

V2X technology enables electric vehicle owners to power their home using their EV, use their EV as a backup power source during outages and sell surplus energy back to the grid. The platform also allows energy suppliers to engage EV owners to participate in energy trading.

The use of CCS charging means the Inflexion trial is a potential game-changer for V2X technology as CCS is used on millions of EVs. If successful could accelerate the rollout of V2X dramatically.

Although Inflexion will be the first trial of its kind using CCS technology, Kaluza recently completed another trial with Ovo Energy customers which it claims was the world’s largest domestic V2G trial. The 36 month programme involved over 330 V2G chargers.

Kaluza’s report on the program showed average customer savings of £420 per year and 3 million “free” miles driven which is almost 15,000 km per vehicle.

Kaluza gained a lot data from the 3 year trial and key takeaways such as engaging with auto OEMs early, collaborating closely with policymakers and regulators and the importance of building customer confidence from the outset. Valuable lessons it willcarry into the Inflexion CCS program.

“This is not just about driving renewable energy solutions forward, it’s about demonstrating how customers can actually reduce their energy bills by making the switch to an EV,” said Alex Thwaites, Head of Zero Carbon Living at Ovo Energy.

“With Ovo’s V2G tariff trial we saw some EV drivers save up to £800 a year on their bills.”

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Above, report from WFAA Dallas on “orphaned” oil wells in Texas. Big problem, as smaller oil companies have left hundreds of thousands of inactive wells behind without proper plugging – a burden for taxpayers.

New report below of potential new problem in Appalachia.

Environmental Health News:

PITTSBURGH — Diversified Energy Company, the largest owner of oil and gas wells in the country, might abandon up to 70,000 oil and gas wells throughout Appalachia without plugging them, according to a new report.

The company, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, spent the last five years acquiring tens of thousands of aging, low-producing conventional oil and gas wells and some fracking wells primarily in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. Conventional oil and gas wells are traditional wells where fossil fuels are extracted through vertical boreholes.

A new report, published by the Ohio River Valley Institute, a progressive think tank, finds that the company’s financial liabilities exceeded its assets by more than $300 million in June

2022. According to the report’s authors, it’s rare for an oil and gas company’s liabilities to exceed its assets to this extent, prompting concerns that Diversified Energy will go bankrupt without plugging its wells.

“We don’t want to see citizens and taxpayers have to pay for plugging these well after this company is gone,” Ted Boettner, author of the report and a senior researcher with the Ohio River Valley Institute, told EHN. “The way Diversified’s business model is set up, this is a distinct possibility.”

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