Copenhagen Post:

Denmark has teamed up with Germany and the Netherlands to look into the possibility of building an island in the North Sea to locate wind turbines in the future.

The artificial island, which will include a harbour and a landing strip for aircraft, is proposed to be six square kilometres in size and be located on Dogger Bank, a large sandbank in a shallow area about 100 km off the east coast of the UK.

“We haven’t let our fantasy gain the upper hand, although it may sound a little crazy and like something out of science fiction,” said Torben Glar Nielsen, the technical head of national energy provider Energinet.dk.

“We who have the responsibility of transporting the electricity generated by offshore wind turbines back to land and the consumers must constantly push and make sure that the price continues to fall. That requires innovative big-scale solutions, and an energy hub in the North Sea is worth thoroughly looking into.”

READ MORE: World Bank: Denmark top for green energy

Millions could benefit
The national energy transmission companies of the three nations involved will sign an agreement on March 23 that looks into the opportunities of the island.

Just establishing an island at Dogger Bank from stone and sand is expected to cost over 10 billion kroner, and that’s without the cost associated with the estimated 7,000 wind turbines planned to be erected there.

But however costly the plan, the benefits of one or more of these islands could ultimately provide energy to 80 million European consumers.

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ThinkProgress:

President Trump’s budget slashes investment in clean energy — the biggest new source of sustainable high-wage employment in the world.

In contrast, China’s latest five-year energy budget invests $360 billion in renewable generation alone by 2020. Beijing calculates the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.”

Trump’s self-proclaimed “America First” budget released Thursday zeroes out key Department of Energy (DOE) clean-tech programs:

  • the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which invests in innovative clean technology
  • a program to improve manufacturing for clean cars, and
  • the loan guarantee program, which jump-started large-scale U.S. solar deployment, the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, and companies like Tesla.

This should surprise no one. Trump campaigned on zeroing out clean energy funding.

The budget offers this rationale: “The private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.”

Nonsense. The United States is notorious for inventing whole industries other countries end up dominating — because our private sector under-finances advanced development and commercialization.

That’s a key reason America steadily lost manufacturing jobs while other countries make so many devices we invented. I’m looking at you iPhone, flatscreen TVs, and most consumer electronics….

Similarly, we invented the modern solar cell, but Chinese companies now make some 70 percent of them. We pioneered wind power and had the first megawatt wind turbine — but China now has five of the top ten turbine makers. The only U.S. company in the top 10 is GE.

The Trump administration would slash the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy — the dominant U.S. backer of cleantech for decades — in favor of “limited, early-stage applied energy” R&D. That office (which I helped oversee in the mid-1990s) is a key reason for the game-changing cost reductions described in the 2016 DOE report “Revolution…Now: The Future Arrives for Five Clean Energy Technologies.”

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New York Times:

So perhaps it is no surprise that Mr. Trump’s first budget took direct aim at basic scientific and medical research.

Still, the extent of the cuts in the proposed budget unveiled early Thursday shocked scientists, researchers and program administrators. The reductions include $5.8 billion, or 18 percent, from the National Institutes of Health, which fund thousands of researchers working on cancer and other diseases, and $900 million, or a little less than 20 percent, from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which funds the national laboratories, considered among the crown jewels of basic research in the world.

The White House is also proposing to eliminate climate science programs throughout the federal government, including at the Environmental Protection Agency.

“As to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward: We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said at a White House briefing on Thursday. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”

The budget also calls for eliminating some programs that help bridge the divide between basic research and commercialization. Among the most prominent of these is the Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy, known as ARPA-E, the Energy Department office that funds research in innovative energy technologies with a goal of getting products to market. Its annual appropriation of about $300 million would be eliminated.

James J. Greenberger, the executive director of NAATBatt International, a trade group for the advanced battery industry, said ARPA-E had been of enormous benefit to the industry.

“We’re absolutely stunned by it,” Mr. Greenberger said of the agency’s potential elimination, which he announced to industry leaders gathered at his group’s annual conference in Arizona. “I don’t know what’s going through the administration’s head. It’s almost surreal.”

Bloomberg:

Tesla is ready to power some grids. And not just in California or Australia.

Last week, Elon Musk wagered he could address South Australia’s energy crisis with 100 megawatts (MW) of batteries installed in 100 days or less—“or it’s free.” The exchange blew up on Twitter and led to phone calls between Musk and leading Australian politicians, including Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. (Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman later chimed in that he’s interested, too.)

An analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance finds that such a deal wouldn’t only alleviate South Australia’s blackouts, but would be profitable—at an anticipated cost of roughly $169 million (A$220 million). Battery prices are tumbling fast—by almost half just since 2014—and such mega projects are increasingly popping up around the world. More on that below. But first we should clarify Tesla’s pricing details, since there’s been some confusion out there.

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The greatest existential threat to human civilization, barring nuclear holocaust, is not worth preventing, according to alternative facts.
Not everyone in the administration is on board.

Meantime, another nexus of terror soon to be weeded out…

MIT Technology Review:

While promising to put up a high concrete wall along the Mexican border, Donald Trump said it would cost between $8 billion and $12 billion. Fat chance.

That becomes apparent after you look at what’s already on the border. After initially proposing to wall off all 2,000 miles, Trump said the wall could run along roughly half of the border, with mountains and other natural barriers blocking immigrants from crossing elsewhere. And on the portion where Trump envisions a wall, there are already 653 miles of fencing—some designed to stop cars, some to stop pedestrians, depending on the likeliest mode of crossing in each section. Building those fences has cost $2.3 billion since 2006.

If you wanted a wall instead of a fence—and if it truly were, as Trump has promised, 35 to 65 feet of concrete reinforced with steel—then the costs would mount extremely fast. Imagine a 1,000-mile wall, at a height of about 50 feet, the middle of the range that Trump has thrown out. Then suppose the wall extended 15 feet underground—a little more than is structurally necessary for a foundation, but enough to deter some tunnelers. You wouldn’t really build a long wall at a constant thickness, but let’s assume that on average, it’s one foot thick—enough to make a 50-foot wall stable and hard to cut through, a concern that Trump and his supporters have raised with the existing border fence.

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Relevant here, of course, because its all about the oil.

methaneplane

Purdue researchers flew an airborne chemistry laboratory over natural gas-fueled power plants and refineries to measure greenhouse gases. They found that although these facilities are much better for the environment than coal or oil-fueled plants, the actual amount of pollutants produced is as much as 42 times higher than estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency. Credit: Purdue University photo

Phys.org:

Power plants that burn natural gas produce significantly less pollutants and greenhouse gases than coal-burning plants, according to current estimates of how much methane escapes from such power plants, as well as from oil refineries, and estimates could be off by a wide margin, a new Purdue University study finds.

For the past decade,  has been replacing coal as a fuel for electric . It’s become relatively inexpensive, and it’s much less damaging to the environment if – and it’s an important “if” – it doesn’t leak out of the system before it is burned to make power.

That’s because although burning natural gas is much cleaner than coal or oil,  (which is mostly what natural gas consists of) has the potential to be even more damaging over the short term than coal or oil if it isn’t handled properly, says Paul Shepson, Purdue’s Jonathan Amy Distinguished Professor of Analytical and Atmospheric Chemistry.

“Methane is a 34 times more  than is carbon dioxide,” he says. “It’s a better fuel all around as long as you don’t spill it. But it doesn’t take much  to ruin your whole day if you care about climate change.”

The breaking point for natural gas leakage is about 3 percent. If more than that leaks, the fuel has a bigger climate effect than burning coal.

“The good news from our study is that while emissions are greater than anticipated, natural gas-burning power plants are still cleaner, relative to burning coal” Shepson says. Shepson said this pilot study found that the amount of methane escaping from the plants was only 0.3 percent on average.

Even taking into account previous estimates of methane leakage in the supply chain of 1.7 percent, the total methane emissions are still below the 3 percent threshold, the study found.

The study also found that methane emission rates were significantly higher than two sets of estimates reported by the Environmental Protection Agency; the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory of Emissions and Sinks estimated that total methane emissions from all U.S. refineries and natural  was negligible in 2014.

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At a meeting of TV Meteorologists last year in Austin, I was approached by Greg Fishel, of WRAL in Raleigh, who let me know that climate crocks videos were part of the process when he woke up.

I’ve heard from other TV mets, but also scientists, citizens, teachers who use these vids in their classes, even Capitol Hill staffers. These videos get used, and change minds.

Something to think about as we wind up for the summer field season. I’ll be laying out our plans in coming weeks – but if you wish to contribute again, you can click the button at the right. If you are looking for tax breaks, go to the Dark Snow Project page, and earmark your donation for Peter Sinclair 2017.

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