I’ve posted interviews recently from Michigan Utility executives (see below) who have recently set new goals for decarbonizing in coming decades – huge turnaround in just a few years.
Same thing happening in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin’s two largest public utilities are making bigger stakes in renewable energy and have pledged far deeper cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases than previous predictions.

Madison-based Alliant Energy says it intends to stop burning carbon-intensive coal altogether in its electric power plants by 2050.

Alliant and Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group recently said they are setting new goals to reduce carbon emissions by 80% from 2005 levels by 2050.

That’s a shift from 2016 pronouncements when the utilities envisioned carbon dioxide reductions of 40% by 2030. (WEC Energy Group, which operates We Energies, says it now expects to reach the 40% goal by about 2023.) 

The moves to renewables are driven by tumbling prices for wind and solar power at the same time power companies in Wisconsin and nationally are using more natural gas as an alternative to coal.

WEC Energy Chairman Gale Klappa told analysts on July 29 that utility-scale solar has increased in efficiency and prices have dropped by nearly 70% in recent years. He called it “an option that also fits well with our summer peak demand curve and with our plan to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

Here, Dave Harwood of DTE – big Detroit area utility.

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GeoEngineering: A Mirage?

August 13, 2018

pinatubo1

Rob Meyer in The Atlantic is doing some of the best reporting right now on climate change. Here’s one of his latest.

The Atlantic:

Over the past few years, I’ve heard dozens of scientists talk about solar geo-engineering, the once outlandish idea that humanity should counteract climate change by releasing special gases into the stratosphere to reflect away sunlight and cool the planet.

But I’ve never heard it discussed in quite the terms of Jonathan Proctor, an agricultural economist at UC Berkeley.

“You’re in an arena with a big bear,” he told me. (The bear is climate change.) “And the question is: Should you throw a lion into the arena? You know, maybe they’ll fight and kill each other. Or maybe they’ll just both kill you.”

That lion is looking worse and worse. Recently, a surge of academic research has revealed that solar geo-engineering will be anything but straightforward. Solar geo-engineering is now taken seriously at the highest echelons of science: It commands its own research center at Harvard, a serious book from an Economist editor, and a private triennial global meeting. Even as some of its most devoted researchers doubt it will succeed, they add that climate change’s severe consequences may make it a necessity.

On Wednesday, Proctor and his colleagues added to that growing literature, as they unveiled the first global economic projection of how solar geo-engineering will affect the world’s crops. Its conclusions, which are not positive, should not inspire confidence in our ability to reverse climate change in a simple way.

“You’re in an arena with a big bear,” he told me. (The bear is climate change.) “And the question is: Should you throw a lion into the arena? You know, maybe they’ll fight and kill each other. Or maybe they’ll just both kill you.”

According to the new paper, solar geo-engineering’s consequences will override its benefits. Proctor and his colleagues find that spraying volcanic gas into the air will reduce global temperatures, aiding crops. But those same gases will also scatter sunlight and reduce the amount of radiation that reaches the surface, hampering photosynthesis.

The net effect is roughly nil: Global yields will not emerge from a geo-engineered world any more bountiful than they were before. Solar geo-engineering cannot reverse the worldwide agricultural damage wrought by climate change.

The results were published in this week’s edition of the scientific journal Nature. Proctor compared them to a disappointing clinical trial.

“If you think of solar geo-engineering as an experimental surgery, then the side effects of the treatment—the changes in sunlight—are kind of just as bad as the original disease,” he told me.

But he didn’t want to throw out the idea just yet. “Just because the first test of an experimental surgery had bad side effects for a particular part of the body, it doesn’t mean the procedure should be automatically abandoned,” he said.

Proctor and his colleagues were only able to run the test because something like solar geo-engineering has happened before—in fact, it occurred in living memory.

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Bear with me.

I was completely freaked out by the trailer for a new documentary on Alex Honnold, apparently the world’s best free climber, and his ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite park.
Nat Geo presentation will be out soon.

Seriously, if you get vertigo, be careful watching trailer above.

Turns out Honnold also has a foundation supporting installation of solar energy in the developing world. Great story.

Below, Vice News production team followed Honnold solo-ing for solar in Angola. Read the rest of this entry »

Cleantechnica:

Drones, going beyond their military origins, have reached almost every form of aerial transportation. It’s fresh new target: reopening the door to personal air mobility.

The Black Fly is a personal air mobility vehicle from Opener we covered a little while ago. It is now fully qualified via FAA Part 103 as an ultralight air mobility vehicle and is thus limited to 62 mph (100 km/h or 53 knots), with a range of 25 miles (40 km). Its maximum performance is higher than that. Opener is intelligently marketing its Black Fly, via Plane & Pilot magazine, as a fun aerial mobility device which needs no special pilot license.

We covered the Kitty Hawk Flyer eVTOL flight recently, and the Kitty Hawk team is now inviting certain press members to test fly the Flyer in Nevada. This eVTOL aircraft is also a certified (FAR) Part 103 ultralight aircraft. Hey, Kitty Hawk team, you know we live in Los Angeles, don’t you?

Following our Rolls Royce air taxi story last month, we learned that Aston Martin has now partnered with the company for its Volante, a luxury autonomous aircraft (AV). The idea piggybacks on the Rolls-Royce eVTOL platform and shows that the companies are aiming to tackle our future mobility needs.

 

tamino1

It’s carny season again. Just a tip.

Tamino of the Open Mind Blog has a terrific take-down of a bogus temps graph that’s been making the rounds.

So clear even I can understand it. I’m told it’s burning up Twitter.

Starts with the graph above.

Open Mind:

Suppose I wanted to convince people that temperature in the USA wasn’t going up, it was going down. What would I show? Let’s try yearly average temperature in the conterminous U.S., also known as the “lower 48 states” (I’ll just call it “USA”):(see above)

Well that won’t do. It shows that temperature has been rising, not falling. By the way, I’ve included two trend estimates. The blue straight line is a lineartrend estimate and it’s going up. The red curvy line is a nonlinear trend estimate, it has gone up and down and up, and is now rising fast. Scary fast. That definitely won’t do.

But wait! The temperature shown is the mean temperature, which is the average of the high and low temperatures. What if I tried just low temperatures?

tamino2

That won’t do either. Scary fast.

How about high temperatures?

tamino3 Read the rest of this entry »

From the National Center on Science Education.