Discover more from Hopium Chronicles By Simon Rosenberg
On The Energy Transition, Reasons for Optimism
"The Clean Energy Future Is Arriving Faster Than You Think"
I came across a series of articles with good news about our transition from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy and thought you would enjoy them. Lots of Hopium to be found here:
Delivery vans in Pittsburgh. Buses in Milwaukee. Cranes loading freight at the Port of Los Angeles. Every municipal building in Houston. All are powered by electricity derived from the sun, wind or other sources of clean energy.
Across the country, a profound shift is taking place that is nearly invisible to most Americans. The nation that burned coal, oil and gas for more than a century to become the richest economy on the planet, as well as historically the most polluting, is rapidly shifting away from fossil fuels.
A similar energy transition is already well underway in Europe and elsewhere. But the United States is catching up, and globally, change is happening at a pace that is surprising even the experts who track it closely.
Wind and solar power are breaking records, and renewables are now expected to overtake coal by 2025 as the world’s largest source of electricity. Automakers have made electric vehicles central to their business strategies and are openly talking about an expiration date on the internal combustion engine. Heating, cooling, cooking and some manufacturing are going electric.
As the planet registers the highest temperatures on record, rising in some places to levels incompatible with human life, governments around the world are pouring trillions of dollars into clean energy to cut the carbon pollution that is broiling the planet.
The cost of generating electricity from the sun and wind is falling fast and in many areas is now cheaper than gas, oil or coal. Private investment is flooding into companies that are jockeying for advantage in emerging green industries.
“We look at energy data on a daily basis, and it’s astonishing what’s happening,” said Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency. “Clean energy is moving faster than many people think, and it’s become turbocharged lately.”
More than $1.7 trillion worldwide is expected to be invested in technologies such as wind, solar power, electric vehicles and batteries globally this year, according to the I.E.A., compared with just over $1 trillion in fossil fuels. That is by far the most ever spent on clean energy in a year.
Those investments are driving explosive growth. China, which already leads the world in the sheer amount of electricity produced by wind and solar power, is expected to double its capacity by 2025, five years ahead of schedule. In Britain, roughly one-third of electricity is generated by wind, solar and hydropower. And in the United States, 23 percent of electricity is expected to come from renewable sources this year, up 10 percentage points from a decade ago.
“The nature of these exponential curves sometimes causes us to underestimate how quickly changes occur once they reach these inflection points and begin accelerating,” said former Vice President Al Gore, who called attention to what he termed a “planetary crisis” 17 years ago in his film “An Inconvenient Truth.” “The trend is definitely in favor of more and more renewable energy and less fossil energy.”
Rural Mingo County, West Virginia, is one of America’s poorest counties. Nearly one-third of its residents live below the poverty line, only a third of its population is employed and countless lives have been upended by opioid addiction.
But this community in the heart of Appalachia scored a badly needed win this April when Adams Fork Energy and CNX Resources unveiled plans to build the nation’s largest clean ammonia production facility there.
The $3 billion project, set to be located on a reclaimed coal mining site, is expected to support 2,000 construction jobs and generate an influx of tax revenue.
This is just one example of a struggling community that has landed a major investment in clean energy since President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law exactly one year ago Wednesday.
The $750 billion law — the largest climate investment in US history — has helped spark a boom in private investment, especially in clean energy, electric vehicles and batteries.
Importantly, many of these clean energy projects are set to be built in communities that really need the help.
Counties that have won investment in IRA-related sectors tend to be poorer than the average county, according to a Treasury Department analysis shared first with CNN.
For instance, almost 90% of the announced investments in IRA-related sectors are in counties with below-average weekly wages, the analysis found. More than 80% are in counties with lower college graduation rates than the national average.
In Mingo County, just 9% of the residents are college graduates, well shy of the national average of 36%.
“These communities are poised to reap huge benefits from new investment. New plants could bring people into the labor force who have been left behind,” the Treasury analysis finds.
About two-thirds (65%) of the announced investments in IRA-related sectors are in counties with above-average poverty rates and child poverty rates, according to the research.
US lab says it repeated fusion energy feat - with higher yield (Washington Post)
A group of U.S. scientists say they have repeated their landmark energy feat — a nuclear fusion reaction that produces more energy than is put into it. But this time, they say the experiment produced an even higher energy yield than one in December that got international attention for making a major step forward toward the long elusive goal of producing energy through fusion.
This second achievement by researchers at the federal Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is another crucial step — albeit in a journey that may still take decades to complete — in the quest for an unlimited source of cheap and clean power. The successful effort was initially reported by the Financial Times on Sunday.
“We have continued to perform experiments to study this exciting new scientific regime. In an experiment conducted on July 30, we repeated ignition at (the National Ignition Facility),” Paul Rhien, a spokesman for the federal laboratory, said in a emailed statement. “Analysis of those results is underway, but we can confirm the experiment produced a higher yield than the December test.”
Rhien said the lab “won’t be discussing further details” of the July experiment until after more analysis. But the team plans to “share the results at scientific conferences and peer-reviewed publications as part of our normal process for communicating scientific results.”
Right now, nuclear power plants use fission, which creates energy by splitting atoms — the science at the center of the blockbuster “Oppenheimer.” While nuclear power produces bountiful clean energy, it has long drawn concerns over safety, though it is getting renewed attention amid an international push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming.
Fusion, on the other hand, creates energy by merging atoms together. It’s long been a dream because it could create limitless clean energy without the radioactive byproducts of nuclear power or the risk of meltdown. Plus, the fuel to make fusion happen is simply heavy hydrogen atoms, which can be found in something that Earth has in abundance: seawater. No mining of uranium is required.
Judge rules in favor of youths in landmark climate decision (Washington Post) -
In the first ruling of its kind nationwide, a Montana state court decided Monday in favor of young people who alleged the state violated their right to a “clean and healthful environment” by promoting the use of fossil fuels.
The court determined that a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act has harmed the state’s environment and the young plaintiffs by preventing Montana from considering the climate impacts of energy projects. The provision is accordingly unconstitutional, the court said.
“This is a huge win for Montana, for youth, for democracy and for our climate,” said Julia Olson, the executive director of Our Children’s Trust, which brought Held v. Montana. “More rulings like this will certainly come.”
The sweeping win, one of the strongest decisions on climate change ever issued by a court, could energize the environmental movement and usher in a wave of cases aimed at advancing action on climate change, experts say.
The ruling — which invalidates the provision blocking climate considerations — also represents a rare victory for climate activists who have tried to use the courts to push back against government policies and industrial activities they say are harming the planet. In this case, it involved 16 young Montanans, ranging in age from 5 to 22, who brought the nation’s first constitutional and first youth-led climate lawsuit to go to trial. Those youths are elated by the decision, according to Our Children’s Trust.
Exciting, isn’t it?
Keep working hard all - Simon